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DNA Approach

Using a DNA-templated synthesis approach, Harvard University's David Liu and colleagues have developed a compound that can inhibit the protein insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE), reports Susan Young Rojahn at MIT's Technology Review.

The gene encoding IDE is commonly mutated in people with type 2 diabetes, and Liu and his colleagues found that their IDE inhibitor increases insulin levels in both the blood of normal and obese mice.

The DNA-templated synthesis approach the researchers took, Young Rojahn notes, works by linking chemicals to a strand of DNA and then allowing the interactions between two strands of DNA to bring those chemicals into close contact to form larger chemical compounds. Such an approach, Liu says, allow researchers to quickly evaluate interactions between chemicals.

"A single student with only minimal equipment and infrastructure can evaluate millions of potential small molecule-protein interactions in one to two weeks," he adds.